Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009
Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009 Gift box
Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009

Sale price$495.00
Côtes des Blancs & Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France

Style: Champagne Extra Brut

Varieties: Chardonnay (100%)

Closure: Cork

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Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009

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Producer: Ruinart

Country: France

Region: Champagne

Vintage: 2009

Critic Score: 97

Alcohol: 12.5%   Dosage: 4g/l

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2040


A brilliant edition of this tête de cuvée. Absolutely fabulous on two separate occasions - Antonio Galloni

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is named after a Benedictine monk called Dom Thierry, the uncle of Nicolas Ruinart who founded the Champagne House in 1729. It is Ruinart's prestige cuvée and is considered one of the finest expressions of blanc de blancs in Champagne. The cuvée, first made in 1947, is a blend of chardonnay from Grand Cru fruit. Around 90% is sourced from the Côte des Blancs (the villages of Cramant, Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Chouilly) and the balance from the village of Sillery on the northern slopes of the Montagne de Reims. The wine is aged on lees for at least nine years in Ruinart's famous chalk cellars.

"An expansive and luxurious blanc de blancs Champagne with incredible depth of toasty and creamy character from long contact with the yeast. Flows over the palate in a single, great wave that extends into the enveloping and energetic finish, making you forget all the troubles of the world. Subtle floral, peach, candied-citrus and spicy notes. Spot-on balance and so lively, it surely has many years ahead of it."  James Suckling

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009 is a blend of chardonnay Grands Crus, 82% from the Côte des Blancs (Cramant, Avize, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger) and 18% from the Montagne de Reims (Sillery). The wine was aged on lees for nine years in Ruinart's chalk cellars. Dosage is 4g/l.

"Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009 is intensely radiant gold, with almond green highlights. The first nose reveals fresh, fleshy fruits such as apricots, nectarines and lemons. Hints of white blossom with honeyed undertones mingle with this fruity register. The second nose evolves into candied fruit aromas evoking fresh marzipan and traditional calisson d’Aix delicacies. The mouthfeel is characterised by a silky acidity that blends with the freshness of stone fruits and a surprising savouriness. The overall taste presents a beautiful balance, the wine is flavourful and lively with a long and subtle finish."  Ruinart 

Frédéric Panaïotis, Chef de Cave, discusses Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009
Frédéric Panaïotis, Chef de Cave, discusses Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009
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Expert reviews

"The 2009 Dom Ruinart has been absolutely fabulous on two separate occasions. Chef de Caves Frédéric Panaïotis turned out a brilliant edition of this tête de cuvée that offers a compelling balance of richness and vibrancy. Citrus, mineral, spice and dried flowers are all beautifully delineated throughout. In 2009 Dom Ruinart has a bit less fruit from the Montagne de Reims and more from the Côte des Blancs (specifically Cramant, Avize, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger) than has often been the case. This approach gives the wine more tension and steeliness than readers might expect in a vintage known for generally forthcoming Champagnes. I would not be in any rush to open the 2009, as it very clearly needs time. The only question is how much. Superb. Tasted May 2021."  Antonio Galloni, Vinous – 97 points

"An expansive and luxurious blanc de blancs Champagne with incredible depth of toasty and creamy character from long contact with the yeast. Flows over the palate in a single, great wave that extends into the enveloping and energetic finish, making you forget all the troubles of the world. Subtle floral, peach, candied-citrus and spicy notes. Spot-on balance and so lively, it surely has many years ahead of it. 80% of the cuvée is from Avize, Chouilly, Oger and Le Mesnil, plus 20% Montagne de Reims. Drink or hold."  James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com - 97 points

"The first whiff is softly floral, think narcissus, and entirely creamy – very perfumed and intense. This is followed by insistent notes of wet chalk and pure lemon freshness along with a kind of savouriness, reminiscent of almond paste. With air, it becomes more and more pronounced. The palate has something joyful and generous, luminous and fresh, sinuous and poised. The intense concentration reveals profound flavour, a savoury saltiness that refers back to the almond paste, to cool, chalky, lemony depth. The length is astonishing and while delicious now, this will evolve beautifully."  Anne Krebiehl MW, Falstaff.com – 96 points

"It’s floral-scented with a flinty dryness emerging, along with a hint of lemon zest and a whiff of almond and vanilla. In the mouth, it’s open and full-bodied, showing the richness of the vintage, but it’s retained its vivacity thanks to an underpinning of a surprising but balanced degree of minerally lime-freshness. Asked what he’d drink it with, M. Panaïotis thought poultry with summer truffles would be just the ticket and it’s hard to disagree. Tasted April 2021."  Anthony Rose, The Real Review - 95 points

"Disgorged in April 2019, the 2009 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs continues to drink very well, bursting with aromas of crisp stone fruit, confit citrus, wheat toast, bee pollen and smoky reduction. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and charming, it's a pillowy, giving Champagne with excellent depth at the core, tangy structuring acids and a saline finish. Admirers of the Ruinart style will love it. Drink: 2022-2038. Tasted Aug 2022."  William Kelley, Wine Advocate - 95 points

Dom Ruinart

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is named after a Benedictine monk called Dom Thierry Ruinart, a friend and confidant of Dom Pérignon. He was the uncle of Nicolas Ruinart who founded the Champagne House in 1729. It is Ruinart's prestige cuvée and considered one of the finest expressions of blanc de blancs in Champagne.  

Ruinart first produced the cuvée in 1947, with cellar master Bertrand Mure crafting the inaugural Dom Ruinart in 1959. On its release in 1966, every single bottle was exported to the United States. Today, the house has just one solitary bottle of the inaugural vintage, which it had to buy back from a collector.

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009 is a blend of chardonnay from Grand Cru fruit. Around 90% is sourced from the Côte des Blancs (the villages of Cramant, Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Chouilly) and the balance from the village of Sillery on the northern slopes of the Montagne de Reims.

The wine is aged on lees for at least nine years in Ruinart's famous chalk cellars (crayères), a cathedral-like complex of cellars more than 40 metres below the streets of Reims that stretch eight kilometres long - that is today a Unesco World Heritage Site.

For the past 25 years Ruinart has been reducing the sugar levels in its prestige cuvée (and all its champagnes) to enhance its finesse and balance. The dosage on the 1988 Dom Ruinart was 9.5g/l, by 1998 it had dropped to 7.5g/l , by 2004 it was 5.5g/l and the current vintage 2010 is just 4g/l.

Time for change: the reintroduction of ageing in cork

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2010 marks a new departure for the house who decided to reintroduce the tirage-liège method – bottle ageing under natural cork. This is the first time in more than 50 years that a vintage has been aged under cork rather than crown cap. This is an exciting development and something that Panaïotis was interested in introducing ever since he first arrived at Ruinart and tasted experimental bottlings aged on cork made by former cellarmaster Jean-François Barot of the 1998 and 2002 vintages.

"The 1998 I tasted when I started was so fresh for ten-year old wine, I was convinced we should make the move, it was just a matter of getting everything else ready," says Panaïotis. The 'everything else' is the state of the art manual disgorging line, capable of handling 100 bottles an hour, the introduction of jetting technology and the training of enough skilled operators to do the disgorging.

"We went to see what they do at Bollinger and with DP2 and DP3," he says. "It’s great to see the pride the disgorging team take in their highly skilled work, but it’s a much slower process. Jetting for me was a mandatory component, so no oxygen can get in the bottle. If it does, in just 20 seconds you could have an effect similar to ten years ageing."

The text below is taken from an article by David Kermode that appeared in Club Oenologique, January 20230 

"Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Ruinart’s prestige cuvée, is renowned for its ability to age. It is, then, fair to say that the decision to enact a fundamental change to the process by which the wine slowly matures on its lees in those famous crayères was not made in haste. Rather, it is the culmination of a process that began towards the end of the last millennium.

The newly released Dom Ruinart 2010 represents both a revolution and an evolution, a turning point that also sees the turning back of the clock. For the vintage marks the first time in more than 50 years that it has been aged entirely under a cork stopper rather than the metal crown cap that is widely used across Champagne.

The latter has long been assumed to be the perfect closure for ageing Champagne prior to release. But almost a quarter of a century ago, in 1998, Ruinart initiated an experiment, with a select number of bottles sealed under cork and the remainder under crown cap, so that comparisons could be drawn.

Although the trial began under his predecessor Jean-François Barot, cellar master Frédéric Panaïotis, who joined the house in 2007, continued the project and was the ultimate architect of the decision to return exclusively to ageing under cork prior to the wine’s disgorgement. "It was an intuition that has been validated over the years during our tastings," Panaïotis tells me in the tasting room above the cellars, as he shares a series of charts showing data gathered during the trial. "I was absolutely blown away by the differences revealed by the experiment, but it took me a while to understand why the cork had such an impact on the ageing process. Then I needed to convince the entire team, because making a significant change of this nature obviously required investment."

"In 2009 [the previous Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs release], we were simply not ready to make the change. But when it came to 2010, we felt we had done enough work to be convinced that it was the right decision. So the entire vintage went under cork – and now we can enjoy the result."

During the ageing process, there will always be a degree of exchange between the gases inside a closed bottle and the humid air in the cellar, something that must be carefully controlled. But the switch to cork is – to put it mildly – counterintuitive. It might naturally be assumed that a cork would actually allow more oxygen into the bottle than a crown cap, thus hastening its journey to maturity. But it’s not quite so straightforward. "The closure is not really a closure at all," says Panaïotis. "It is well documented, but cork acts rather like a rigid sponge, with 85% air and the remainder solid. Initially, there is an increase in the intake of oxygen, but it flattens out, meaning the oxygen is pretty stable. Then, after six or seven years, the cork actually becomes more resistant to oxygen compared to the crown cap."

Tasting the 2009 and 2010 releases side by side, there is undoubtedly an impact on the freshness in the later vintage, beyond what you might expect to find with vintage variation. But the change goes much further, amplifying the complexity and depth of the wine. On the nose, zesty notes of citrus reinforce a teasing sense of youthful vigour in the 2010, while baking spices, raw almond and toasted hazelnuts add a more seductive lustre. The palate feels slightly more taut – brooding with a richness and roundness that is delicately revealed, like layers of the finest filo pastry, reinforcing the elevated, epicurean superiority of the younger cuvée.

Panaïotis says that ageing under cork "creates some big differences. There is a spicy influence, something Burgundian, perhaps even a suggestion of oak." It’s an interesting effect, especially since Panaïotis has never advocated the use of oak maturation (though he does have a fondness for fine Burgundy). "We like to capture the fruit," he adds. "All of our wines go through malolactic fermentation, but we’re not seeking those flavours – we want aromatic freshness, roundness and texture on the palate without playing with dosage, and the cork extends the period of reduction (resulting in toasty, biscuity flavours) for the wine."

It is, as Panaïotis says, "a major oenological departure" for the house at a time when Champagne as a whole is facing up to several challenges, not all of them easy to control. Chief among them, of course, is climate change. "We are no longer in a cool climate here," he adds. "We are in a moderate climate." Out comes another chart, this one featuring data from the Huglin Index, which uses seasonal averages to confirm the rise in temperatures. "When harvests are early, sugars develop faster, but phenolic maturity less so," says Panaïotis to illustrate the challenges.

Fifty years ago, October harvests were the norm in Champagne. In 2010, the fruit was picked from the middle of September. But at the time of my visit this summer, the region was preparing for another August harvest, the fourth in six years. Meanwhile, over the same period, dosage levels have decreased – this latest Dom Ruinart has 4g of sugar per litre – a sure sign of riper fruit, as well as changing tastes.

"The time for action is now; we cannot afford to wait," says Panaïotis of the climate crisis, before highlighting the sustainability dividend delivered by the move away from crown caps. Cork for the replacement stoppers comes from sustainably managed forests in Portugal, the cork oak regenerating its bark every nine years after the first harvest."

Chef de Cave

Ruinart's Chef de Cave, Frédéric Panaïotis

Frédéric Panaïotis joined Champagne Ruinart in 2007 as Chef de Caves at the age of 43. His most important responsibility is to create the blends of champagne, from the non-vintages Blanc de Blancs and Rosé to the prestige cuvées of Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé.  

Frédéric spent much of his childhood in the vineyards owned by his grandparents in the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne, discovering a world that later would become his true vocation. His professional career began with a training period in the Interprofessionnel Committee of Champagne, where he studied the method of making champagne. Frédéric continued his training at the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon, specializing in Viticulture-Oenology followed by a degree in École Superieure d’Oenologie l’Montpellier.

Frédéric joined the LVMH stable where he spent more than 12 years as a winemaker at Veuve Clicquot learning his trade under cellar master Jacques Peters. In 2007, he transferred to the much smaller Ruinart, also under the LVMH umbrella, when the position of Chef de Cave became vacant. Having worked as a boy at his grandparent's small Chardonnay vineyard, it was appropriate that he ended up heading the winemaking of a house known especially for its Chardonnay champagnes. "A house of this size and quality level suits me perfectly," confesses Panaïotis.

Skilled cellar masters are Champagne’s celebrated stars. "I am not the star, the champagnes are the stars. We cellar masters spend most of our careers talking about the wines that our predecessors made. I am only the guardian of the style for the generations to come," says Frédéric Panaïotis in his characteristically modest and considerate way. During his tenure at the house, the wines have gained in precision and deservedly been awarded top prizes in prestigious wine competitions. 

In addition to winemaking, the role of the cellar master in Champagne is increasingly one of communication. Today they are global ambassadors who zigzag the world to share their knowledge and promote their champagne House. Panaïotis has no difficulty being technical and entertaining at the same time. If you want to get technical, he is always eager to share his knowledge openly and constructively. Astonishingly, he can do this in at least eight different languages including Japanese and Mandarin Chinese! "I find that languages are a great tool for learning about cultures," Panaïotis explains. With his natural-sounding accents, it appears that languages are innate to him, but he insists it is all about hard work rather than a gift. "It is the same with tasting; I consider myself to be a reliable taster, but it is 95 per cent work and only five per cent talent."  

When asked to tell something surprising about his role as Chef de Caves at Dom Ruinart, he replied, "As you may know, we collaborate every year with an artist, David Shrigley most recently. They spend time in our maison to learn about our history, our vineyards, our values and of course our wines. Then, they have carte blanche to create art pieces which will be displayed in contemporary art fairs worldwide. Every year, I find it fascinating to taste Ruinart cuvées with them. I explain our style and how we achieve it, starting from the grapes and through the winemaking process. I always love their approach, how they view things differently, often more deeply than us winemakers can. Art is an incredibly helpful tool to develop our emotional intelligence and elevate our souls." 

The text below contains extracts from an interview with Frédéric Panaïotis in Selectus Wines Magazine in January 2021

We read somewhere that, to begin with, you wanted to work with animals... When and why did you change your mind?
"I wanted to be a vet, but basically this was because I wanted to work in a zoo.  I wasn’t interested in working with cows or goats, but with tigers, lions ... I later realized that there were not many opportunities in this line of work, so I started studying biology because I wanted to be a scientist in this field, and this led to me to study agronomy. When I started on oenology, I fell in love with the discipline and stayed with it.  And then, there was also the time when my uncle brought a bottle of Richebourg ’76 along to a Christmas dinner.  I was really impressed by it and that was a real turning point. From that day on, I knew I wanted to work in the wine world."

Where did your story as an oenologist/winemaker start?
"My first work experience was in Roussillon in the south of France, then I was in Champagne, and after that, in Tain Hemitage and Califormia. In the end, I worked in Champagne for five years in 3 separate periods before I joined Ruinart. One of these work experiences was with the CIVC, the official Champagne interprofessional body, and this gave me a very broad perspective of the diversity of Champagne and its technical challenges."

What is your ambition at Ruinart?  
"I intend to make a wine that reflects the philosophy and style of the Champagne House, respect its history and make wines that are more and more precise."

Do you have any current projects, either short, medium or long term? 
"Our current plan is to celebrate the 300 year anniversary of the oldest Champagne House in Champagne, which is quite amazing! This will be in 2029 and we’re already working on a project to mark the occasion appropriately. Champagne has that magic, in that you can create things which will sometimes be enjoyed by future generations."

How many base wines do you work with?  What is the oldest? And what is the oldest vintage in the Ruinart cellars?
"Between 200 and 250 different wines, the oldest is 3 years in the case of Ruinart and 12 years old for Dom Ruinart. The oldest vintage in our cellars is 1929. I’d like to take advantage of this interview to tell people that we are always on the lookout for old vintages and that we would be happy to recuperate any pre-1959 bottles of Ruinart as part of the Champagne House’s heritage."

About the winery

Maison Ruinart

The history of this illustrious Champagne house, known internationally for the quality of its chardonnay grapes and the purity and aromatic finesse of its cuvées, spans nearly three centuries. Established in 1729 by Nicolas Ruinart, Maison Ruinart holds the title of the oldest established Champagne House in the region (Gosset, Founded in Aÿ in 1584, is the oldest wine estate).

The story begins with Nicolas Ruinart's uncle, Dom Thierry Ruinart, a visionary Benedictine monk who lived from 1657-1709. He was a brilliant theologian and historian, a friend and confidant of Dom Pérignon and a contemporary of Louis XIV. He left his home in Champagne at the age of 23 to go to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the most influential centres of learning near Paris. It was here, exposed to the aristocratic courts and a more worldly life, that he learned of a new 'wine with bubbles' (not yet known as champagne) which was popular among young aristocrats.

Dom Ruinart encouraged his nephew Nicholas (1697-1769), a cloth merchant, to invest in this emerging market. Initially, Nicholas presented his most important cloth customers with champagne as a gift, but it was so well appreciated that when Louis XV declared that champagne could henceforth be sold in bottles instead of barrels, he heeded his uncle's advice and founded Champagne Ruinart. In 1730, Nicolas launched his Champagne onto the European market, by 1761 he was selling 36,000 bottles per year. 

Nicholas was supported in this by his son Claude Ruinart (1731-1798) and the company name was expanded to Ruinart Père et Fils. After his father's death, Claude moved the company's headquarters from Epernay to Reims and expanded the champagne trade.

Many members of the Ruinart family (which officially became 'Ruinart de Brimont' in 1817) diligently guided the House during the two following centuries. With each passing generation, a new Head of House emerges, bringing forth their unique talents and unwavering commitment to serve the lineage of Ruinart. This steadfast succession ensures the preservation of the family's legacy, as each successor devotes themselves to upholding the traditions and values that define Ruinart. Their collective efforts propelled the House to unparalleled heights, solidifying its reputation as a bastion of excellence in the world of champagne.

Sadly, the Ruinart family’s reign came to an end in the 1950s following financial difficulties. The business accepted financial assistance from Baron Philippe de Rothschild, and in 1963 it was sold to Moet & Chandon, which subsequently became part of luxury goods group LVMH. Today the business is overseen by Frederic Dufour, a man well-versed in Champagne having held senior roles with Veuve Clicquot, Moet & Chandon and Moet Hennessy.

Although owned by LVMH, Ruinart still retains a high level of independence and its own style, nurtured by the talented Chef de Cave Frédéric Panaïotis who joined Champagne Ruinart in 2007. The unique shape of its bottle is a tribute to the historic bottles of the eighteenth century but Ruinart continues to build on its reputation for innovation and actively pushes the boundaries today. Ruinart was the first house dedicated to the production of champagne, the first house to ship Rosé champagne in 1764; the first house to use wooden cases and the first house to age their wine in 'Crayères'. They continue to focus on innovation and a commitment to sustainability, recent examples being the introduction In 2020 of the 'Second Skin' case as an alternative to the gift box and the reintroduction of ageing in cork instead of the metal crown cap that is widely used across Champagne. They are always looking to the future, at how they can stay ahead and how they can continue to be an industry leader.

With the House due to celebrate its 300th birthday in 2029, there are plans to create an extra special wine. For the time being, the plans are a closely guarded secret.; "Our chef de cave is preparing something pretty major for 2029. I don’t know the details," says Ruinart's U.S. brand director, Nicolas Ricroque.

Vineyards

Ruinart's own vineyards, which cover 20 hectares, are located primarily in the Montage de Reims. No herbicides are used and all vineyards belonging to Ruinart itself have been certified sustainable since 2014. 'Viticulture durable en Champagne' is the name of the label and was initiated by the Comité Champagne.

Ruinart also buys grapes from the Côtes des Blancs, Montage de Reims and the Côte de Sézanne. The House motivates and supports its grape suppliers to produce their vineyards according to the principles of the label and pay more for the grapes from sustainably managed vineyards.

Cover crop flowering and useful plants are now being extensively used in its vineyards. In its Taissy vineyard, Ruinart has initiated an ambitious reforestation project and will plant nearly 25,000 trees and shrubs to regenerate the soil and bring back the original fauna and flora to the parcel. 

Winemaking

Frederic Panaïotis has slowly been pushing a reductive style of winemaking since he took over in 2007. "We hate oxygen!" he declares. Ruinart uses a pneumatic press to guard the juice against oxidation and uses inert nitrogen gas to protect the wine at every production stage.

Vinification only takes place in stainless steel and no oak is used. Long ageing in the crayères brings autolytic layers and the dosage has been reduced to low levels to retain freshness and to give the wines a certain flintiness.

Rosé Milestone

In 1764, the House achieved yet another milestone by successfully shipping the first-ever Rosé champagne across the vast expanse of Europe. This ground-breaking achievement introduced a new dimension to the world of champagne, captivating connoisseurs with its unique hues and flavours.

The Famous Crayères 

As the sparkling wine business expanded, so too did the need for cellars. In 1768, Claude Ruinart, Nicolas' son, purchased eight kilometers of the Gallo-Roman chalk quarries (crayères) meticulously dug out beneath the historic city of Reims. The Ruinart crayères are a labyrinth of chalk chambers sometimes up to 38 meters deep, which became a French historic monument in 1931. These extraordinary caverns served as the ideal sanctuary for storing their precious bottles, ensuring optimal aging and maturation. 

Unfortunately, there are no bottles pre-dating 1945 in the chalk cellars as the Germans found their way into the cellars during the war and basically emptied them. 

Ruinart Chalk Cellars

The 'Second Skin' Case

In 2020, Ruinart revolutionised its packaging with the new 'Second Skin' case, an alternative to the gift box. Over three years of research and development were needed to produce the 'Second Skin', which is a 99% paper and recyclable case, moulded to the shape of the bottle. This case is 9 times lighter than its gift box predecessor and is produced without incurring any airfreight, resulting in a 60% reduction in its carbon impact.

Velvety soft to the touch and white like chalk, the case has a silky, organic feel and the surface of the second skin evokes the walls of the crayères where the bottles are aged. It protects the wines from light as well, which is essential for optimal storage, especially for the clear glass Ruinart Blanc de Blancs bottle. Suitable for storage for several months in a fridge, the case can withstand the humidity of a cellar, and up to three hours in an ice bucket. So rather than being disposed of immediately, the case may be retained until serving or longer to maintain the integrity of the wine.

Eco-designed from start to finish, it is nine times lighter than the previous generation of Ruinart gift boxes (just 40 grams, compared with 360 grams previously). The carbon footprint has been reduced by 60%, and 100% of the paper comes from sustainably managed European forests. What’s more, 91% of the water used in its production is clean enough to be released back into nature after filtering. Maison Ruinart President Frédéric Dufour says the new packaging marks a decisive stage in the Champagne house’s holistic environmental approach.

Ruinart Second Skin Case

The reintroduction of ageing in cork

The champagnes that are stored for longer than six to seven years are now sealed with natural corks for bottle fermentation. Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Ruinart’s prestige cuvée, is renowned for its ability to age. It is fair to say that the decision to enact a fundamental change to the process by which the wine slowly matures on its lees in those famous crayères was not made in haste. 

The newly released Dom Ruinart 2010 represents both a revolution and an evolution, a turning point that also sees the turning back of the clock. The vintage marks the first time in more than 50 years that it has been aged entirely under a cork stopper rather than the metal crown cap that is widely used across Champagne.

The latter has long been assumed to be the perfect closure for ageing Champagne prior to release. But almost a quarter of a century ago, in 1998, Ruinart initiated an experiment, with a select number of bottles sealed under cork and the remainder under crown cap, so that comparisons could be drawn. The experiment showed that the resulting minimal oxygen contact is very positive

"I was absolutely blown away by the differences revealed by the experiment, but it took me a while to understand why the cork had such an impact on the ageing process. Then I needed to convince the entire team, because making a significant change of this nature obviously required investment," said cellar master Frédéric Panaïotis. "In 2009 [the previous Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs release], we were simply not ready to make the change. But when it came to 2010, we felt we had done enough work to be convinced that it was the right decision. So the entire vintage went under cork – and now we can enjoy the result." 

Collaboration with the Arts

The Champagne House's longstanding relationship with the arts made headlines in 1895 when André Ruinart commissioned famous Czech artist Alfons Mucha to create an advertising poster for its champagne.

Ever since Ruinart has sought out eclectic artists to create dedicated works of art. The work is then taken as the theme for the prestige cuvée presentation boxes. Perhaps the most famous example is "Bouquet de Champagne Dom Ruinart," pictured below. Created from Murano glass by Dutch artist Maarten Baas, it depicts a crystal chandelier that has plummeted onto a dining table.

'Bouquet de Champagne Dom Ruinart' by Dutch artist Maarten Baas'Bouquet de Champagne Dom Ruinart' by Dutch artist Maarten Baas

The Road Ahead

"We are very strong in France – that is how the house reestablished itself. Many people do not know that the house almost went bankrupt in 1946. There was no money and we had two customers – imagine that, only two customers, and one of them was not paying the bills. We were producing a total of 10,000 bottles, and the brand nearly disappeared. The person who was overseeing the brand at the time, who was 26 years old, knew that the focus needed to be on the French market, so we sold our wines in France," reflects Frédéric Panaïotis.

"When I joined the company over 16 years ago, 75 percent of our wines were sold in France," he continues. "We did not want to put all of our eggs in one basket, so we focused on growing the business in other markets. We have a lot of potential outside of France, and I would mention two markets in particular where we are currently underrepresented, and those are the United States and Japan. We see strong potential in these two markets in the coming years."

"The time for action is now; we cannot afford to wait," says Panaïotis of the climate crisis, "It is simple for us since everything is born in the vineyards and in nature. If we cannot manage to keep some stability in the conditions to grow grapes, there will no longer be a house of Ruinart. It is critical for Ruinart, it is critical for everyone in the Champagne region, and it is increasingly critical for everyone in the world."

wine region map of france

France

There are 16 major French wine regions, each known for their own unique grape varieties, terroir and wines. They are Alsace, Armagnac, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Bugey, Burgundy, Champagne, Cognac, Corsica, Jura, Languedoc- Roussillon, Loire Valley, Provence, Savoie, South-West and the Rhône Valley.

The largest region is Languedoc- Roussillon, the oldest is Provence, the most influential and famous are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire Valley and the Rhône Valley.

French wine is labelled by wine region or appellation rather than by grape variety (except in Alsace). In order to guarantee the quality and provenance of French wines, the French government established the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system. Under this system the wine label indicates the geographical origin, quality and, generally, the style of a wine. Many regions are home to multiple appellations; for example, the prestigious Bordeaux region in the southwest of France has over 60 growing appellations.